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This game follows on from the earlier episode in the UFO series, but I have picked the series up after quite a long break (I think the last one I played prior to this was XCOM: Apocalypse).
You take control of a base on Mars that has been set-up by some people who have fled Earth after an alien attack, in order to preserve the species. Your aims are to terraform mars, to make it a suitable base, and find out what has happened to those you left behind on earth.
The action is split over a strategic world map, and a tactical mission map. From the world map, you can access all the different aspects of your base, such as research & development, production, base construction, training, squad creation and equipment. It is easy to navigate your way around this screen, and the controls are all very intuitive and will prevent no surprises to anyone with any experience of the genre.
There are an incredibly vast number of technologies in the game to research. The problem with this is that it can be very difficult to choose the right things at the start, and these early choices can have quite an impact in how successful you are. Having said that, the choice you are given does give you the chance to add a distinctive flavour to your games, and this can help with the replay value.
All the characters you have in the game have a major skill, either Technical, Scientific or Military, and some characters can have more than one. In addition, as you progress into the game, you can build robots to fight for you. Each character gains experience as they progress, and can be trained (or upgraded for robots) in new skills. As you complete new areas of research, new skills are opened up.
On the strategic map, the action is similar to the older games, with real-time replaceing the turn based action of yore. The controls for the individual characters in your squad are very easy to use, with left click selecting, and right click performing a context sensitive action. You can also set up a plan by using the shift key, so that actions are carried out one after another. It is also possible to move units in formation by selection them all at once and telling them to move. Unfortunately, there is no way to control which way a formation points, so some re-jigging on move orders can be required.
The mission maps are generally quite small, although some mission can be spread over different maps. For instance, in some you have to take an item from an old Martian ruin, requiring you to fight your way in from the surface, and then through the interior. These missions are a blessing, as there seem to be very few maps available, with the same ones re-appearing time and time again.
There are different objectives for the various mission, so you can have a more tactical experience, although they do tend to boil down to the same Kill all the aliens format, with the objective taken care of afterwards.
All in all, this is a very deep and involving strategy game. It takes a long time to work through, and the different technologies available mean that there is plenty of replay value. The most important factor is that it is fun. The strategic elements are not overwhelming, and the tactical missions are just plain fun, and can be approached in various ways.
If you are a fan of the series, or strategy games in general, I would heartily recommend this game.
Mankind has been dealt a cruel blow. We have lost our homeworld. And yet, we are not defeated. Now, we fight for the survival of our race. Now, we fight to conquer a new home for mankind planet Mars. Take command of the UFO: Afterlight task force. The base camp on the surface of Mars is self-sustainable, providing oxygenated air, water and nutrients. Mars is a barren planet, a wasteland of dust and rock. If mankind is to survive, Mars must be tamed. Squad based tactical action and global strategy take centre stage as you manage resources, research advanced technologies and control elite ground troops to secure a new future for humanity.